Resident Evil 6 might be a highly anticipated title for a lot of people, but for me, the more I see of it, the less interested I am. I can’t remember if I’ve criticized the series anywhere outside of forums before, but I’ve had a number of gripes with it ever since Resident Evil 4 came out. I’m a big fan of classic Resident Evil and not much at all of modern Resident Evil. Next week I’ll be taking a detailed look at the series and what I think bogs down its recent installments. For now I’m going to specifically target Resident Evil 6, and especially go over four recent gameplay videos of it.
And before I begin, do bear in mind that I’m aware some people don’t share my pessimism about the game, and I honestly hope I’m wrong that the game is going to be bad. But I think the problems I’m going to point out are hard to ignore. I will try to avoid criticisms that come purely from a nostalgic perspective, however, though there will be some present and as I will cover next week, I think they are somewhat valid as well.
Admittedly I have not been following the game extremely well until recently, so most of what I know about it comes from others and I’m not sure how accurate it is, obviously excluding what I know from the videos. I understand from those people that Resident Evil 6 has three playable characters, and it’s specifically Leon who’s designed to play like an actual horror game, whereas the other two are supposed to differ a lot from that. With that out of way, let’s get to the videos.
I’m going to try hard not to nitpick too much, but some of these are going to be petty annoyances, I’ll admit that right now. I think bringing them up is valid though, because it’s possible for the game to be death by inches with its annoyances. First is at about 0:28 seconds…. what is “no way to go out”? I see a dead body and a (very) small amount of blood. It looks like a tame death, and honestly doesn’t look like something a gigantic snake (the monster responsible) would cause.
It’s only at 2:08 that the fight with the snake actually starts, and it’s clear that the video cuts at several points. What I’m wondering is, how long exactly does it take to fight the snake, and what do you actually get to do in the meantime? Watching the video, I was already getting impatient. I don’t know if there’s good stuff they’re not showing or something, but right now that’s looking like an unnecessary waiting period.
And it’s not scary at all. Part of that has to do with the ridiculous levels of machismo displayed by Chris — it’s basically impossible to feel scared playing as a bodybuilder — but there’s no decent atmosphere, either. You’re not made to feel immersed in the area, or anxious about what it contains. A monster jumping around through the walls in front of you is not subtle horror… or horror at all. It’s just action. I’m aware that Chris’s gameplay is supposed to be action, but if that’s the case, then what is up with the attempt at dramatic buildup? It’s looking to me like the game can’t decide whether it’s trying to be an action game or a horror game, and is failing notably at both.
The fight itself looks… alright I guess. Not spectacular, but fun. It seems like it’s a worthy battle for a good game, but not something I’d expect out of a game of the year title, which is what I’ve seen some people claim Resident Evil 6 is going to be. However, I do like the throwback to the original Resident Evil with the snake, and while I’m aware that it’s a holdover from Resident Evil 5, I do like Chris’s voice.
Now here comes the real test of the game’s potential at horror; this video is of Leon gameplay, which is allegedly supposed to make up the scary portions of the game.
So the video’s off to a good start. An unsettling location, a creepy attack scene. The first enemy doesn’t appear to be strong in any way, but very quickly you see the multitudes behind him and it becomes a scary scene, and one right out of classic zombie movies. The danger in zombies is not the individuals, but the hordes, and this scene seems to capture that… until a moment later at 0:42, when out of nowhere comes a train that kills most of the enemies.
So am I supposed to feel scared that a train just killed all the monsters? And barring the horror aspect and thinking of it as just an action game… is this supposed to be fun? Is it fun that all of the enemies I was about to actually fight got taken out by a gimmick that’s totally out of my control? Once again, this is not good horror or good action.
The dog combat at 0:55 actually looks good, I’ll admit. Not really scary, but good gameplay. Then at 1:18 we have another zombie attack, which, while starting out nice and scary, and seemingly challenging, has a lot of problems. The first is the partner. I haven’t played Resident Evil 5, so I don’t know how well they did with the partner AI in that game, but here the partner is a disaster. She seems barely able to fight at all and has to be rescued (via hilarious and over-the-top super kick, no less) while she constantly whines and cries out.
At 1:47, we witness one of the zombies throw a pipe at Leon. As I understand it, these aren’t really supposed to be standard zombies (though I am still going to call them that throughout this article), and like the foes of the last two games they’re supposed to be capable of more… but if that’s the case, why do they seem completely and utterly uncoordinated the rest of the time? Every attack they do looks like a mess. And they should for the living dead, but if they want to sell an intelligent creature, they simply can’t have the enemies go from shambling dumbass straight into suddenly coordinating the hell up and throwing something at you in a clean movement. That’s absurd. There’s also another train. I don’t understand why they added the train at all. Did this scene really need a distraction?
Again, the battle in the train car at 2:06 looks pretty cool, and in this case it actually looks like it’s tense and alarming, which is good. But then at 2:37 there’s a confusing scene where you save some lady. She basically runs out, and goes to let in a bunch of zombies. I get that she’s supposed to be going after her husband or some other loved one, but nothing about the way she carries herself or speaks makes any sense, even in someone who’s supposed to be hysterical; is she deaf and blind as well? Is that why she didn’t notice the zombie before it grabbed her legs, and why she barely responded to being fricken’ devoured?
The last two videos are the first and second part of a lengthy preview of Leon gameplay. The first begins with a story sequence in which Leon must shoot his zombified friend, the president, taking a ridiculously long time to actually fire. I would accept this as an understandable emotional reaction if Leon were not an elite, trained soldier, but given that he is, there’s simply no realistic way to rationalize this; he sucks at his job. The line “don’t make me do this” doesn’t make any sense either. I realize the idea might be that he’s talking to himself, but it’s still a ridiculous thing to say given that the president is clearly in an advanced stage of zombification and is not going to stop. Leon’s not this much of an idiot.
Leon’s hesitation makes less sense at 3:10, when he shows his remorse but also clearly shows that he’s capable of reigning in his emotions very quickly. So what stopped him when he was actually in danger? Ignoring the military training thing, I’m not convinced Capcom even understands how the survival instinct works.
Several minutes later at 6:40 we meet a coughing man who seems so sick throughout these two videos that there’s basically no way they didn’t want you to think he’s infected — although he isn’t — who you agree to help find his daughter. The man then runs out after hearing a scream, then… runs back in?
Nothing else worth mentioning happens for the rest of the video. Onto the second video of the Leon preview:
Leon’s scared by lightning at 2:32 for no reason I can figure out. Is it a phobia? That’s the only reason I can think of that he’d be more scared by it than the freaking zombies and monsters he fights in the rest of the game.
After probably over 10 minutes of just walking around these hallways without anything happening, you finally find the man’s daughter at 3:10, in what I’ll admit was a nice scare. You get more “obviously about to become a zombie” vibes from her, which is confusing because her dad gave those too.
At 4:48 you finally enter the elevator with the girl to get out and… she zombifies, attacking you. This scene doesn’t look all that fun, but it brings us back to the issue of Leon’s previous hesitation, because he yells at his partner to shoot her because she’s “already gone”, afterwards saying “Get used to it. It’s either them or us, and they don’t hesitate.” Obviously calling into question everything he did in the beginning of the preview but never acknowledging his hypocrisy at all
I also question why the game has you spend a significant amount of time slowly trudging through these hallways with these two characters only to kill them moments later and give them… no plot importance. Since this entire section fails to be scary, it’s a complete waste of the player’s time.
Moments later at 6:58, the elevator doors open to reveal a ton of zombies, and Leon exclaims not to let them in… even though you want to get out. Cue obnoxious car alarm for the rest of what is an alright battle.
At 8:26, Leon watches a hilarious scene that I’m surprised didn’t make him laugh: He watched two idiots holding up a sign that reads “HELP!”, not notice the horde of zombies behind them, and get eaten. He doesn’t make any move to go rescue them until they’re dead, then says “Let’s go!” before his partner has to tell him that it’s too late. Then he shakes his head and says “You’re right” with the straightest, most awesome face they could come up with.
Which of course is another significant problem. From not wanting to shoot the zombie president, to chastising his partner for not shooting the zombified daughter, to wanting to save two completely doomed douchebags, to being cool about it again… Leon is unbelievably inconsistent. It’s a far bigger problem than the question of his military training, and is impossible to ignore.
Now, clearly this game has a lot of good parts. There’s a lot of good action scenes spread around, and some neat moments overall. But all over the place, there’s nonsensical game design, horrible distractions from what the game gets right, and awful dialogue and writing.
I don’t get it how Capcom can go from the well-made early games of the series to something like this, or even how they made this alongside Revelations, which from what I could tell from its demo is the best title the series has seen in a long time. I don’t know what Capcom’s thinking, but they need to re-evaluate their approach with this series, and I’m not just talking about making it scary again, or matching what they did with the earliest games in the series. I’m also talking about production values and decent game design, neither of which this game appears to have. You’re free to disagree and I do hope the game is going to be good, but it doesn’t look like it will be to me.